A bucket of water and two crowbars were the tools a burglary gang used to break into a jewellery shop in Tsim Sha Tsui and grab HK$3.1 million worth of valuables - all in just a couple of minutes.
They used the water to deactivate the alarm and the crowbars to break the display cabinets in the ground-floor store on Mody Road early yesterday, police said.
The security system, including an alarm installed outside the shop, was connected to the control room of a security company.
It was triggered at about 4.45am when the three intruders dislodged the alarm, but they quickly silenced the device by plunging it into a bucketful of water.
"The security firm called the shop manager but was told thunder and lightning might have activated the system," a police officer said.
"He thought it might be a false alarm and saw no need to seek help from police."
The shop's Japanese manager, 40, told the security company that he would go to the premises to check. When he turned up at 5.30am he found the shop had been ransacked.
The stolen goods included 68 new and second-hand luxury watches, 400 rings and 40 pairs of earrings. Officers found no sign of the burglars. The red plastic bucket of water with the alarm in it had been left outside the shop.
The officer said it was hard to say whether the police could have arrived in time to catch the burglars if the shop manager had immediately reported the incident after he was alerted by the security firm.
"They acted fast. They were only in there for about two minutes," he said, adding that the heist had clearly been planned.
He said police were investigating whether the gang had recently set off the shop's alarm to time how long it would take for officers to turn up.
CCTV footage from the shop showed two of the raiders smashing the glass casings of the display cabinets with crowbars, and a third man stuffing valuables into two bags, police said.
"They weren't wearing … masks but they did have caps on so that they couldn't be easily identified by surveillance cameras," another officer said.
Police believed the gang fled in a getaway van driven by a fourth man.
The Yau Tsim Mong District crime squad is investigating. No one has been arrested.